THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: May 19, 2013
I’m looking forward this coming week to being involved in two lively panel discussions of comics and their relationships with art and with literature. This Thursday May 23rd from 7.30pm, as part of the Image Duplicator exhibition on show at the Orbital Comics Gallery, I am joining artists and exhibition co-curators Jason Atomic and Rian Hughes and A&D Gallery director Daniel Brand to discuss the Roy Lichtenstein Controversy and consider whether, and if so when, it is appropriate to ‘appropriate’ popular culture, in particular comics, in art. Come and join in the debate- and yes, it’s free!
And then on Sunday May 26th at 2pm, I am off to the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank to chair Drawing The Story with Mary Talbot, writer and co-author with Bryan Talbot of the Costa Biography prize-winning graphic biography, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Glyn Dillon, creator of The Nao of Brown (above), and Stephen Collins, cartoonist for The Guardian and author of the excellent debut graphic novel The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. We’ll be discussing comics status and potential in literature and beyond. Tickets cost £10, hope to see you there!
Posted: May 17, 2013
Crime most definitely did pay in 1945 for publisher Lev Gleason, and presumably also for editors Charles Biro and Bob Wood, as the four issues, #38-41, reprinted in Volume 5 of the Crime Does Not Pay Archive series from Dark Horse Comics, testify. It’s not common practice to give cover billing under the logo to a comic book’s editors. In fact, Biro and Wood also make rare cameo appearances inside Crime Does Not Pay #38 in a ‘Special Inside Comic House’ page (above) to introduce Dick Briefer’s regular Crime Notebook feature, Who Dunnit?, in which readers are challenged to solve a murder mystery. Briefer shows his two editors at ‘Comic House’ in celebratory mood: “We’ve had a big year, Bob. The quality of our books rises higher and higher with every issue.” Biro might have added, “And our sales too”. Read the rest of my Article here…
Posted: May 14, 2013
In my recent article on Pop Art and plagiarism, The Principality of Lichtenstein, I included a preview of WHAAT?, Dave Gibbons’ brand-new sharp satirical take on Roy Lichtenstein’s famous painting WHAAM!, now showing in the retrospective at Tate Modern in London. Visitors to the Comica Comiket and other events on Saturday April 20th were able to see this for the first time in a one-off, large-scale pair of prints, framed in perspex.
This blow-up is now about to adorn Orbital Comics as part of an exciting exhibition entitled Image Duplicator from May 16th to 31st which Rian Hughes and Jason Atomic have curated. Courtesy of Dave and Print process, a signed and limited edition of this image will be available with all funds raised going to the Hero Initiative to help comics creators in need.
Dave Gibbons, artist on Watchmen (and many other fine comics), has given a bit of background on WHAAT? and the ideas behind it and this show:
“I’ve spoken out in the past about my dislike, on both aesthetic and ethical grounds, of the “appropriation” of comic strip images by “pop art”. The feeling amongst the comics community is pretty much unanimous: we feel patronised, and we feel that several of our revered elders have been, frankly, robbed.
“To us, their creativity and skilled labour has been discounted by considering their work as being merely, in the jargon of the art world, “found”, and they have received no credit or recompense for what amounts to celebrated and expensive copies of their creations. The current exhibition of such images at the Tate Modern in London has prompted a new consideration of these matters, and I was invited to speak on a recent TV show about my views.
”However, it was Rian Hughes, another vociferous critic of the art establishment’s attitude who came up with the brilliant idea of our comic community using its own medium to make the point. Under the title IMAGE DUPLICATOR, the response has been very heartening and we are staging an exhibition of several dozen images in the gallery space at Orbital Comics.
“Naturally, I’m very pleased to support this project and have created an image for exhibition and subsequent auction sale. Entitled “WHAAT?”, it’s framed in diptych format, measuring 41” x 94”, and is my very own “re-reappropriation” of an image originally created by Irv Novick.
“Whilst he and nearly all of the artists mistreated in the past are no longer with us to beneﬁt, all proﬁts from the IMAGE DUPLICATOR venture will, appropriately, be donated to the Hero Initiative. This is a US-based charity which exists to help living comic artists and their families who ﬁnd themselves in ﬁnancial difﬁculty due to age or ill-health.
“So, not only will IMAGE DUPLICATOR make a cultural statement on behalf of the medium which we love but will also have a positive and practical beneﬁt for those in our community who have given of their creativity for often poor rewards.”
Be sure to see this show and support comics creators in need by buying this and other prints from Print-Process on sale through this Orbital exhibition.
Posted: May 8, 2013
It’s a pleasure to be invited back to Islington’s annual festival, this year celebrating reading, writing and freedom of expression, to give another free illustrated lecture about comics. I will be asking what lies behind the moral panics, media scares and strict censorship that have besieged comics in Britain and around the world? Why have they been repeatedly the targets of campaigns and censorship? Is there something inherently dangerous, or radicalising, about the form’s weaving of words and pictures?
From their 19th century precursors in Penny Dreadfuls to the Fifties Horror Comics, from the taboo-smashing Undergrounds to Manga and Graphic Novels today, I’ll explore the controversies behind the comics medium’s often fraught maturing process and the continuing issues of political correctness and the right to offend. Admission free subject to capacity and adults only please - for more details see the festival website.
When: 6.30-8.00pm on Wednesday May 15th
Where: Islington Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent, Islington, London N5 1PF
Posted: May 6, 2013
Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival are pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the inaugural 9th Art Award for Graphic Literature. The 9th Art Award will choose the best work of graphic literature originally written and published in English between May 2012 and July 2013, from anywhere in the world.
I am delighted to join acclaimed arts critic and writer Hannah McGill, Freight Books publisher Adrian Searle and Costa award-winning co-author of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Mary Talbot, in judging the prize this year. A casting vote will be given to Graphic Scotland chair John McShane in the event of a tie. The award will be presented during an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Graphic Scotland Co-Director Gordon Robertson believes the prize could become a fixture on the international arts scene, and as important to sequential art as the Man Booker Prize is to literary fiction: “The 9th Art Award will be a significant annual award for recognition of excellence in the field of Graphic Literature. Its introduction as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival recognises graphic literature’s rightful status as an art form.”
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “We have featured graphic novel authors and illustrators in our programme at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for a number of years now and I believe that this new Award will give the genre the wider recognition that it deserves.”
The deadline for entries is 31 July 2013. For details of how to enter your graphic novel, see the submission guidelines on the website. You can also find and follow 9th Art on Facebook, and on Twitter: @9thArtAward. Please direct all enquiries to info[at]9thartfestival.com .
I look forward to meeting some of you at EIBF on August 23rd, when, amongst other things, I’ll be giving an illustrated presentation at 5pm about my forthcoming book Comics Art from Tate Publishing.
Posted: May 5, 2013
Not every autobiographical comics artist is driven to create their own private book from the Bible. Sarah Lightman’s motivation came from her brother and sister having the Book of Daniel and the Scroll of Esther named after them, but there was no Book of Sarah, until now. A winner of the Slade Life Drawing Prize, Lightman began her diary drawings in 1995 at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, which she displayed as projections and accompanied with her spoken texts. Looking back, she thinks, “I am not sure if I could have survived my life without also drawing it. Often I make art about questions and situations in my life before I have even discussed them with friends and family”. Read the rest of my Article and a web-exclusive interview with Sarah here…
Posted: May 1, 2013
And another Free Comic Book Day stunt this Saturday May 4th is Paul Collicutt‘s cross-London run to sign and promote copies of his excellent period mystery The Murder Mile from SelfMadeHero. Here’s the route map and ETA timetable of where he’ll be showing up along the way - catch him if you can! And here’s a link to the Guardian running blog about it.
Posted: May 1, 2013
The first UK based children’s comic festival, The Oxford Children’s Comic Festival, is to be held at The Story Museum, 42 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP, on 4th of May 2013, 10am-5pm. The festival will celebrate children’s love of stories, art, comics and reading, and will be jam-packed with fun-filled events such as comic creating workshops, comic-drawing and reading areas, plus a special Phoenix Feather Hunt with prizes.
The best children’s comic artists, writers and publishers will be joining The Phoenix, the weekly story comic, from the farthest reaches of the universe! Sarah McIntyre, The Etherington Brothers, Neill Cameron, Adam Murphy, Loaf, The DFC Library, Anorak Magazine and many more will be coming together to create a comic extravaganza!
The Phoenix is a weekly story comic based in Oxford. Packed full of amazing adventures and serialised stories, it aims to encourage children to enjoy reading. The Phoenix is perfect for children who want high-quality original stories, and the team are delighted to be organising this first annual Oxford Children’s Comic Festival! Although the organisers have named this event The Oxford Children’s Comic Festival, they believe there must be a more exciting title to be found. As a result, there will be a competition, on the day, where children will be invited to submit the best festival name. The winner will win an amazing comic prize!
The Oxford Children’s Comic Festival has been timed to coincide with Free Comic Book Day, a day to celebrate the comic content for both children and adults. Join in for a family-friendly day, held at The Story Museum, Oxford. Every child who attends will get a free copy of The Phoenix. Every adult must be accompanied by at least one child! For more information about tickets (and awesomeness), head on over to: the website. Cost: £2.50 general entry per head. £3.00 workshop entry (tickets on the day subject to availability).
Posted: April 28, 2013
Slightly slimmer pickings this time round, but my July 2013 PG Tips are all the better for being cherry-picked for their excellence, intelligence, humanity and wit, and their welcome dearth of spandex, chainmail bikinis, blokes with guns, dreary dystopias, franchise re-treads and blockbuster-itis. One major highlight is Soaring Penguin’s audacious release of the complete Peter Pan by Régis Loisel (above), a gripping expansion and enhancement of the J.M. Barrie play, extrapolating Peter’s traumatic background in Victorian London and adding motivation to his need to escape to Neverland and never grow up. In a way, Loisel does for the original Peter Pan what the musical Wicked does for The Wizard of Oz. Another gem this July is Seagle & Kristiansen’s reunion on the compelling Einsteinian graphic novel Genius. There’s more good stuff here worth your attention and custom - see what tickles your fancy. Read the rest of my Previews here…
Posted: April 27, 2013
June is busting out all over with top-notch, class-act comics, once you’ve hunted down deep for those sparkling needles through the teetering haystack of product on offer. Old and new, reprints and debuts, English-language and translations from The Netherlands (SelfMadeHero’s graphic biography of Rembrandt by the underappreciated Dutch virtuoso Typex, above), Italy, France and Quebec, plus some actually interesting Superman products, all sit side-by-side in this shortlist of my top tips.
As part of his promotion for his new series Lazarus for Image Comics, American writer Greg Rucka calls for “more books about more things, not the same books about the same things with a new coat of paint.” Spot on. It is encouraging to see creators like Rucka break away from ‘legacy characters’ and branch out to originate projects of their own. The only snag is that ‘creator-owned’ does not always equal ‘creative’. All too often these scenarios sound a lot like familiar genre fare or wannabe movies or TV series. In North American comics, spectacular leaps in ambition and achievement have been made by former mainstream artists-turned-complete authors - like Seth, David Mazzucchelli or David Lapham. Whereas these sorts of leaps don’t seem to happen quite so often, when it comes to mainstream writers ‘breaking free’ to pursue their dreams. They may be subject to publishers’ demands for commercial fan-pleasing material, and of course the need to pay those bills, but perhaps sometimes they also set limits themselves on their own creative liberty. Dream braver and bolder please and really deliver “more books about more things”.
For inspiration, here’s some more evidence of that exuberant diversity which is already out there. Read the rest of my PG Previews for June 2013 here…